Gardening Event

Published by Program Manager on

Gardening Event

What is BIIN?

BIIN stands for Brazos Interfaith Immigration Network, where our mission is to promote the human dignity and well-being of all immigrants in our community while advocating for and facilitating better access to legal, educational, and social services. Our mission and efforts are the result of a collaboration from community members who recognized the prevalent immigrant need in Bryan/College Station. BIIN’s legal services include Information, Referral, and Assistance (IRA) in which the organization provides recommendations and referrals for many of their clientele. Whether these be Citizenship classes, English classes, or even walk-in appointments with our Americorps volunteers, BIIN consistently used all their resources to benefit the immigrant community. During the Gardening event, BIIN was able to connect with the community and introduce our services to more individuals in need. Both English and Citizenship classes drew a lot of interest, especially because they are free of charge. 

Why is it important for BIIN to host events? 

It is important for BIIN to host events because it is a great opportunity for us to connect with our community and give back. The purpose of participating in this event for BIIN was to educate community members on BIIN’s range of services. It is important to BIIN to make all events accessible. For many in our community, it is hard to make it to events that are hosted during the morning to early evening during the week, as most of them work long hours to provide for their families. Hosting our own event over the week day gave our current students an opportunity to take advantage of some free food and allow interns to engage with BIIN students, our community members, and other volunteers.

What happened?

April was quite a busy time here at BIIN! With the semester coming to an end, interns were heavily involved in wrapping up individual and group projects to complete their time at BIIN. With the support of Geography 430: Environmental Justice (a Texas A&M geography class focused on environmental equity) and the Aggie Green Fund (an environmental grant organization focused on sustainability), Director Vannessa and Marketing Intern Christian were able to organize and lead a special event for the community and BIIN students. 

On April 27th from 4:30-6:30, friends and volunteers gathered in the Grace Church parking lot in Bryan, TX. For the preparation, members of the Geography class were a tremendous help and set up tables, chairs, and food. Christian then began to post photos of the setup to BIIN’s Facebook and Instagram stories to let BIIN students know that the event was ready to go and volunteers were excited to see them!

Event attendees enjoying a free taco lunch.

Throughout the event, we were able to connect with the partnering organizations and exchange information on the types of services we each offer, better supporting the members of our community by being informed about the types of organizations out there! Due to the timing of the event–early evening on a weekday–we did have leftover plants and food. Interns Christian and Freddy thought it would be a great idea to keep the plants and food to give to our English class students that were taking place later that evening in order to decrease waste and share resources. Brochures were provided with the plants in order to help students successfully care for their plants. 

Volunteers distributing fresh vegetables and herbs.

This event was a wonderful opportunity to meet members of the Brazos community! We had a handful of people who decided to become volunteers at BIIN and we were able to register students for summer classes. All in all, a success!

Highlighted experience with a client?

Towards the end of the event, a lady came up to the tent seeming rather timid. I quickly walked towards her with a smile and proceeded to introduce myself. I know that with a language barrier, one can definitely feel vulnerable and anxious, but she proceeded to show relief. We got to talking and I gave her all the information in regards to the services offered by BIIN, emphasizing that they were all free of charge. Walking towards the food and plants, we kept talking about her day and what she expected out of the classes. Toward the end, I signed her up for our English and Citizenship classes and told her I looked forward to seeing her this summer. It is always a great feeling being able to interact with the community and knowing I was able to make someone feel comfortable communicating. It is the people of Brazos Valley who make my job not feel like a job and make it rewarding for me.

Student volunteers from a TAMU Geography class.

What did we learn or gain from the event?

We learned that to properly utilize all of our community resources, including potential volunteers, we need to be aware of scheduling conflicts and when people are typically unavailable. While planning the event, we made sure to avoid not only work conflicts of the immigrant community but the class conflicts of volunteers and students at A&M. Because of this, we gained an incredible connection with a TAMU geography class, expanding our volunteer base.

Thank you to Christian for writing this story; and to Emma and Peyton for editing.